Both New Providence and Grand Bahamaoffer glamorous accommodations, enticing nightlife, fine restaurants, shopping and of course great beaches. However, some travelers may prefer the quiet, remote charms of one of the so-called Out Islands, such as Abaco, Andros, the Exumas or Cat Island, where accommodations are more rustic and the beaches and reefs virtually deserted.
The Bahamas beautiful islands lie only 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the Florida coast, and extends 1,200 kilometers (760 miles) north-west almost to Haiti. The group consists of 700 islands, of which 30 are inhabited, and about 2,400 cays (coral reefs).
When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 on San Salvador, the islands of Bahamas were inhabited by Lucayans, a subgroup of Arawak Indians. Only 25 years later the entire tribe was wiped out, mainly due to diseases brought over from Europe. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, piracy flourished in the islands because of their proximity to important shipping lanes. At one stage even Nassau, today's capital, was controlled by the pirates.
The Bahamas has an international reputation for sailing, with regattas and races held year-round. The Abacos Islands in the north, are a favorite point for sailors, especially around the smaller cays that make up the group are some almost uninhabited islands to stop for a few days and enjoy the peace away from the crowd. With more than 5% of the planet's reef mass, the Bahamas offer excellent challenges and pleasures to snorkelers and divers. Fishing is also a big attraction in the waters around the Bahamas.
The total land area of the Bahamas is 5,380 square kilometers and the total population is around 300,000, of which 164,000 live in the capital, Nassau. The Bahamas enjoy a mild, semitropical climate. Annual rainfall averages about 114 centimeters (45 inches). Temperatures average 29C (84F) during summer months and 22C (72F) during winter. From late August through October, the Bahamas is often in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms.